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A United States Federal Government program which ostensibly educates children to avoid illegal drugs. However, there is some evidence that schoolchildren who go through D.A.R.E. programs end up more likely to take illegal drugs than comparable children who do not. This may be because the program's propaganda includes many lies -- such as that marijuana causes stupidity or that LSD causes genetic damage -- and when the children discover the lies, they disbelieve the rest, too.

Being a graduate of D.A.R.E., I feel I have a little something to say about it. Many of the comments I have read about D.A.R.E. say that it is nothing more than government propaganda to keep Our Nation's Children from becoming addicted to marijuana and other illegal mind-altering and mood-enhancing substances. And for many reasons, I hold the same view. Much of what is taught in the D.A.R.E. program concerning the softer drugs (i.e. marijuana, LSD, and MDMA or 'ecstasy') is almost completely baseless propaganda. The instructors hired by this program first tell horror stories of smack-junkies, crackheads, and other users who spend a large portion of their lives and money supporting habits that they can't control. (Note that these are drugs of the harder variety, whose use can easily become physically addicting.) The instructor then places the softer, non-habit forming drugs in the same category, essentially creating a singular negative idea of 'drugs' in the minds of the children.

The problem with this is that:

  1. The horror stories are representative of a small portion of the population that uses drugs, and, concerning the softer drugs,
  2. It is baseless propaganda
These same children who graduated D.A.R.E. are going to grow up and see that in the Real World very few people live a life controlled by drugs.

This, in its own way, is not a good thing. Many of my friends who did graduate D.A.R.E. and became potsmokers and acidtrippers and rollers know just enough about the chemicals they put in their bodies to believe that, instead of being completely and utterly detrimental to their entire life, these drugs are almost completely safe.
So while they now know that marijuana is non-habit forming, they may not know that those who smoke risk a greater chance of neck and throat cancer, along with everything that smoking a cigarette might cause (although since many potsmokers smoke much less marijuana than cigarette smokers, they don't stand as high a risk).
While LSD is practically impossible to overdose on (as is marijuana), and in its pure form does not cause nerve damage, it can cause psychological damage in those who are not prepared for it (i.e. taking a much larger dose than they are mentally capable of handling).
MDMA, or ecstasy, is quite probably linked with minor to significant nerve damage, as well as forms of depression in heavy users.

The problem is not just in the way the D.A.R.E. instructor groups all drugs into one category. It is also the drug laws that persist in the United States. The instructor can't rightly say to a room of fourth graders that marijuana and LSD have little to no eventual consequences and then reaffirm that they are illegal. The D.A.R.E. program is just a proponent of the U.S.'s draconian antidrug laws.

For the D.A.R.E. program to be viable, it must first be truthfully informative. If children were to get viable and honest information on the various substances out there, as well as methods of using them responsibly, drug use may go up, but I believe that hard drug use will go down. But for the D.A.R.E. program to teach children honest information about the drugs out there, the ill-informed and unjust drug laws in the United States would have to be overturned. And that is something I (regrettably) don't see happening anytime soon.


For an extensive database on the different drugs out there, try lycaeum.org and erowid.org. Both are highly informative and lycaeum.org contains the largest trip report database on the web.

I read today that the D.A.R.E. people are finally admitting that their program doesn't work, and in fact, it might cause increased drug use among those who are exposed to it. I am a D.A.R.E. graduate. When I was in 6th grade, I proudly received my D.A.R.E. diploma and t-shirt and then I pledged never to use drugs.

Well, obviously, that's one promise that I never got around to keeping. And looking around, many of my fellow D.A.R.E. alumni have joined me in this. The boy who initiated me into the cult of the psychedelic actually won a D.A.R.E. essay contest when we were 12 and read aloud to the entire school about how drugs were bad. We laugh about it now, but some people might not find such things funny. The D.A.R.E. program is propaganda for the drug war, but well-intentioned. *insert comment about road to hell here* Because drugs are bad, of course, when they are used to excess and for the wrong reasons.

The reason that D.A.R.E. fails and why ultimately the war on drugs is failing is because the rhetoric that it promotes is inconsistent with the truth. I believed everything that I was taught in the D.A.R.E. program for years, until I learned that a lot of it was completely false. It bothered me when many people who I considered intelligent and deep were using drugs. "Aren't they going to throw their lives away?" But they haven't...wasn't I taught that anyone who started using drugs was going to become an addicted waistoid who would drop out of school and die young?

I remember being taught a statistic... something to the effect that anyone who starts using drugs while probably die within the next five years. I was young, hadn't yet learned that statistics are lies and I had no idea what this one was based upon, but I was scared. I decided then that I would never use drugs.

When taught about drug resistance, we were never even told that drugs could have any positive benefits at all. I didn't even know that they felt good. All I knew about the psychoactive affects of drugs were that you tried them once and BAM! you were hooked and you JUST COULDN'T STOP. Obviously, there was no reason to imbibe other than to look cool in front of your peers since the program almost totally centered around ways to resist the evil known as peer pressure.

So what happens when you learn that people who take one puff of marijuana DON'T turn into evil smack-banging heroin addicts with no life and no future the very next day? When you learn that drugs not only feel good, but can open your mind to new experiences as well? You can see it all around you.

The program lumps all drugs together: marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD, PCP, ecstasy, crack. They're all the same and can be summed up in one word: EVIL. Alcohol and tobacco, however, are not evil once you're of age (because, ssshhh, don't tell, our funding comes from those industries!), despite the fact that addiction to and death caused by these substances far outweighs the toll that illegal drugs cause on our society.

I'm not saying that D.A.R.E. caused me to use drugs or caused others to not use drugs, but I really think that it has no effect at all. It starts and ends at such an early age, before many kids know what a drug is. I do believe that it is much better to be honest about things however, because once someone finds out that you lie about one thing, everything else that you've said becomes discredited.

You've probably figured out by now that most of DARE's information on drug dangers are grossly exaggerated, but are there any drugs that are really as bad as they say? Actually, yes. While it's tempting to discount everything they told you because some (most) of it is wrong there really are some substances they are honest about.

Inhalants
I've never heard anyone say they got high on "inhalants" so don't feel bad if you didn't know what they were talking about (I didn't either). Basically inhalants are any toxic household substance that kids inhale to get a quick head rush or high. The "high" lasts only a few minutes and can include hallucinations, numb extremities and disinhibition and is immediately followed by headaches and nausea. People frequently huff repeatedly for a few hours to keep the high going which can lead to "sudden sniffing death" in which the heart fails. This can happen even the first time ever huffing. Chronic exposure to inhalants causes widespread and long-lasting damage to the nervous system and other vital organs. The toxic chemicals damage parts of the brain that control learning, movement, vision, and hearing. Damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys may be permanent.
Just huffing once kills brain cells; you can't really do it without causing permanent damage. Even erowid.com, a site that is as close to a balanced view of drugs as you can get, strictly discourages inhalant use (I don't know of any other drugs they feel the same about).

Alcohol
Actually I only put this on here because DARE didn't make a point of exaggerating the dangers of alcohol use. They even admit that there is a difference between use and abuse! They don't mention the potential positive effects of moderate alcohol use, but would you really expect them to? Of course they mention that chronic alcohol abuse is harmful and can lead to permanent damage to vital organs such as the brain and liver and severe withdrawal when drinking is suddenly ceased. Actually I think they kind of downplay the addictiveness of alcohol quite a bit, especially in relationship to other drugs.

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